Abstract 18572: Do Obese Children Consume More Energy at Mealtime Compared to Lean Children?
Overweight in childhood is known to lead to cardiac structural, functional, and vascular abnormalities making childhood obesity a major public health concern. It is often assumed that overeating at mealtime contributes to the excess weight gain, but there is limited data in pediatric populations.
HYPOTHESIS: We assessed the hypothesis that obese children would consume greater kilocalories than their lean counterparts when exposed to identical food choices during a single meal, under semi-controlled conditions.
METHODS: Children were provided a standardized low fat meal and allowed to eat ad lib. The meal provided significantly higher calories than what most children could comfortably eat, in order to discourage seeking additional unapproved food. The meal preparation was supervised by a dietitian and sent home with the family. The family returned the leftover food so that calorie consumption could be calculated.
RESULTS: 40 young people (23 obese, 17 lean) ages 8-19 years old (average 13.5 +/- 3.6 yrs) were recruited. The average calories consumed by the obese children were significantly lower than the amount consumed by the lean children when provided similar meals (p <0.01) (Figure). The obese children also consumed significantly less protein, carbohydrates, and fat (p < 0.05). The study was repeated on a subsequent day with similar results.
CONCLUSIONS: When provided with a low fat meal, obese children repeatedly consumed fewer calories compared to lean children. These findings may be due to a variety of factors, such as taste and research participation, but may have important implications for calorie consumption and intervention in obese children.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.